Monday, 25 October 2010

How will the Community Spending Review cuts really affect homelessness and what are the solutions?

It seems that there are several different ways the Community Spending Review will impact upon homeless clients:   
  • Changes to Housing Benefit payments. Anyone under 35 years old (previously 25 years old) will receive just enough to cover the cost of a shared house. Will this affect those living in hostels? How will it affect those single people already in independent accommodation settling after years of homelessness?
  • Council Tax Benefit is to be reduced by 10%. How will this affect those already struggling to keep up with household bills and payments?
  • Changes to ESA (Employment Support Allowance) and JSA (Job Seekers Allowance) payments depending on contributions made and length receiving specific benefits. How will this affect those most vulnerable and unable to work?
  • Less funding for probation services, yet fewer people sent to prison. Where do offenders get support from and where is the incentive to prevent people reoffending?
Please comment if you can identify any more areas relating to homelessness that will be affected by the spending review, with any comments for solutions.

Monday, 18 October 2010

End rough sleeping by 2012. Is this realistic?

The government (London Delivery Board) have stuck to its plan of ending rough sleeping in London by 2012. It initially began by targeting entrenched rough sleepers and is now planning to open something called The Hub. Which would seem to act as a short stay hostel for rough sleepers (three nights max). See Inside Housing link for further details.Click Here

 If we consider the many ways in which people become homeless and the issues they face, as well as the lack of accommodation, is this a realistic plan? For many outreach workers it can be almost impossible to get access to accommodation at short notice. Although I understand the importance of reducing the length of time people are on the streets, additional resources need to be provided by the Government to enable outreach workers to tackle this issue head on. At the moment I don’t see any commitment from the government to provide additional resources.
 I wonder if the sceptics are right when they say that this commitment to reduce homelessness to near zero is an excuse to tidy up London before the 2012 Olympics and less about the social injustice of people falling through the net and having to live on the streets until help finds them.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Do front line homelessness workers need vocational qualifications?

Engage to Change has been developed by Homeless Link, Broadway and CIH (Chartered Institute of Housing) and is a qualification for people working in homelessness services. The course includes topics such as Professional Practice Skills, Client Involvement, Homeless Services and Prevention, Addressing Need, Building Capacity and Promoting Choice. See the link below for more information about the course. 
All homelessness front line workers should have CRB checks (Criminal record bureau), but do they need formal recognition and professional standards? Most outreach workers bring with them their own experiences (personal or employment) and knowledge to the job and find that the skills required are vast ranging. Does this course build on their already broad skills base or is it a professional label?
Will it assist workers in their job, and help to reduce homelessness by creating more effect working?

We would particularly love to hear from anyone that has done or is doing the course.

Monday, 4 October 2010

Why are there so few housing options for homeless couples?

Although a high proportion of rough sleepers are single men, there are times when, despite all the odds, people form relationships whilst on the streets. From experience, working with couples can be very challenging. It is the responsibility of an outreach worker to undertake an assessment for each individual and ensure each persons needs are fully understood. However, at no stage of the assessment process is the relationship status of an individual considered. A joint plan must be decided between the couple with regards to accommodation. This is all achievable until a search for hostels is undertaken and it becomes evident that there are only a handful of places in the country that take couples and when they do, there is never a guarantee that two beds are available on the same day.

Why are there so few hostels willing to accept couples? Is it the complicated nature of clients being in relationships, or is it all about housing benefits, bed spaces and allocations?

What are the other options for couples if there aren’t any suitable facilities in their area? Should homeless couples be forced to either sleep on the streets until they can access local authority housing (if they are entitled to it), or end their relationship?